Dubai, Nov 7 (IBNS) South Africa's status as the number-one ranked Test side on the Reliance ICC Test Championship Table will be at stake when it plays Australia in a three-match series in Brisbane starting on Friday.
South Africa reclaimed the Reliance ICC Test Championship Mace earlier this August after it defeated the then number-one ranked England 2-0.
For South Africa to retain the number-one spot, it just needs to draw the series, while Australia can return to the top of the tree for the first time in three years if it wins the series irrespective of the margin.
South Africa currently heads the table with 120 ratings points, with England in second spot on 117 ratings points and Australia at number-three position on 116 ratings points.
The final position for the losing side in the Australia-South Africa series would be determined by the result in the India-England series that starts from 15 November.
To find out exactly how the Australia-South Africa series will affect the Championship table, please click here. The Test Championship table is updated after every series, unlike the ODI or T20I Championship tables, which are updated after every match.
Both Australia and South Africa have an opportunity to not just make a strong start to the season but also stake a claim to be the number-one ranked team at the 1 April 2013 cut-off date.
This would mean either side could be in line for the increased prize money on offer for the top-ranked side on the cut-off date.
A total of US $3.8m in prize money will be shared among the top four sides on 1 April 2013, 2014 and 2015, after the ICC Board approved a proposal earlier this year to substantially increase incentives in the form of prize money to promote Test cricket in the period leading up to the ICC Test Championship event in 2017.
Previously, the top team in the Reliance ICC Test rankings received a cheque for $175,000, but, from 2013, it will receive a minimum of $450,000, rising to $500,000 in 2015. From 2016 there will be further increases in Test prize money.
Australia's knowledge of the conditions and its strong track record at home means the side cannot be discounted in the battle for the number-one rank.
Australia captain Michael Clarke is excited about leading the side in the battle of the number-one. "We are excited to be playing in a series in Australia against the number one ranked Test team in the world," he said.
South Africa captain Graeme Smith is banking on the self-confidence within the team to retain the Reliance ICC Test Championship Mace.
"Touring Australia is always tough and the battle for number-one probably makes it an even more anticipated series. We need to play good cricket if we are going to retain our number-one Test ranking," he said.
"We have the self-confidence of knowing that we have the players that can step up when needed, especially after beating England away from home."
"We have earned the right to come here as the number-one Test team after the way we have played over the past few years, and there is a humble inner strength within the squad about facing up to the challenge that is on its way in the next month.
"A series like this is what Test cricket is all about and playing for the Mace is ultimately what all Test playing nations strive for," added Smith.
Reliance ICC Test Player Rankings
South Africa appears to have the edge, at least in terms of having players among the top 10 in both batting and bowling of the Reliance ICC Player Rankings. It has as many as four batsmen - Hashim Amla (second), Jacques Kallis (fourth), AB de Villiers (fifth) and skipper Graeme Smith (seventh) - while Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander hold the top two bowlers' spots, followed by Morne Morkel in ninth position.
Amla trails number-one ranked batsman Kumar Sangakkara by just 23 ratings points. A good series with the bat will provide the number-one ranked ODI batsman with an opportunity to lay claim to the number-one Test rank for the first time in his career.
In contrast, Australia's only batsman in the top 10 is skipper Michael Clarke in sixth spot, while Mike Hussey and former captain Ricky Ponting are just inside the top 20 in 16th and 20th positions, respectively.
South Africa has three bowlers inside the top 10, with Philander trailing Steyn by just 29 ratings points, while Australia's Ben Hilfenhaus (sixth) and Peter Siddle (seventh) will also be in action and hoping to make upward movements.
South Africa´s talismanic cricketer Jacques Kallis has an opportunity to take the number-one spot in the all-rounders´ table. Kallis, with 390 ratings points, trails number-one ranked Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh by 14 ratings points.
Australia v South Africa series schedule
9-13 Nov - 1st Test, Brisbane
22 -26 Nov - 2nd Test, Adelaide
30 Nov -4 Dec - 3rd Test, Perth
Reliance ICC Test Championship
Rank Team Rating
1 South Africa 120
2 England 117
3 Australia 116
4 Pakistan 109
5 India 106
6 Sri Lanka 98
7 West Indies 90
8 New Zealand 76
9 Bangladesh 0
(Developed by David Kendix)
Reliance ICC Test Player Rankings
Rank Player Team Pts Ave HS Rating
1 K Sangakkara SL 892 56.73 938 v Eng at Kandy 2007
2 Hashim Amla SA 869 49.95 872 v Eng at The Oval 2012
3 S.Chanderpaul WI 829 50.20 901 v NZ at Napier 2008
4 Jacques Kallis SA 822 56.94 935 v NZ at Centurion 2007
5 AB de Villiers SA 806 48.85 821 v Eng at The Oval 2012
6 Michael Clarke Aus 771 48.77 855 v Eng at Headingley 2009
7 Graeme Smith SA 767 49.78 843 v Eng at Johannesburg 2010
8 Younus Khan Pak 761 51.69 880 v SL at Lahore 2009
9 Azhar Ali Pak 753 45.27 753 v SL at Pallekele 2012
10 Kevin Pietersen Eng 746 49.48 909 v WI at Headingley 2007
11 S Tendulkar Ind 736 55.31 898 v Zim at Nagpur 2002
12 Alastair Cook Eng 731 47.84 836 v Ind at Edgbaston 2011
13= Misbah-ul-Haq Pak 720 45.68 771 v Eng at Abu Dhabi 2012
T Samaraweera SL 720 51.29 775 v SA at Cape Town 2012
15 Jonathan Trott Eng 719 50.49 856 v SL at Cardiff 2011
16 Mike Hussey Aus 705 50.07 921 v WI at Kingston 2008
17 Ian Bell Eng 704 46.83 822 v Ind at The Oval 2011
18= M Jayawardena SL 693 50.43 883 v Ind at Ahmedabad 2009
Ross Taylor NZ 693 41.69 775 v Pak at Wellington 2009
20 Ricky Ponting Aus 691 52.75 942 v Eng at Adelaide 2006
Rank Player Team Pts Ave HS Rating
1 Dale Steyn SA 881 23.50 902 v SL at Centurion 2011
2 Vernon Philander SA 852*! 15.96 852 v Eng at Lord´s 2012
3 Saeed Ajmal Pak 832 27.09 836 v SL at Galle 2012
4 Rangana Herath SL 782 ! 31.72 782 v Pak at Pallekele 2012
5 James Anderson Eng 761 30.39 813 v Ind at Edgbaston 2011
6 Ben Hilfenhaus Aus 756* 28.03 757 v WI at Port-of-Spain 2012
7 Peter Siddle Aus 740 29.27 768 v Ind at Adelaide 2012
8 Stuart Broad Eng 727 31.02 783 v WI at Lord´s 2012
9 Morne Morkel SA 724 30.36 776 v Aus at Cape Town 2011
10 Kemar Roach WI 712*! 27.69 712 v NZ at Kingston 2012
11 Abdur Rehman Pak 704* 28.40 739 v Eng at Dubai 2012
12 Graeme Swann Eng 683 29.58 858 v Pak at Lord´s 2010
13 Shakib Al Hasan Ban 678* 31.33 680 v WI at Mirpur 2011
14 Zaheer Khan Ind 676 31.95 752 v SA at Durban 2010
15 Pragyan Ojha Ind 624*! 32.92 624 v NZ at Hyderabad 2012
16 Chris Martin NZ 622 33.97 669 v SA at Hamilton 2012
17 Steven Finn Eng 621*! 28.15 621 v SA at Lord´s 2012
18 Ryan Harris Aus 587* 23.63 614 v WI at Bridgetown 2012
19 Umar Gul Pak 584 33.66 642 v Eng at Dubai 2012
20 Daniel Vettori NZ 582 34.42 681 v Aus at Auckland 2000
Rank Player Team Pts HS Rating
1 S Al Hasan Ban 404/*! 404 v Pak at Mirpur 2011
2 Jacques Kallis SA 390 616 v Pak at Durban 2002
3 Shane Watson Aus 334/* 394 v SA at Johannesburg 2011
4 Stuart Broad Eng 318 382 v Pak at Abu Dhabi 2012
5 Daniel Vettori NZ 314 412 v Pak at Napier 2009